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Sea in culture


The role of the sea in human culture has been important for centuries, as people experience the sea in contradictory ways: as powerful but serene, beautiful but dangerous. Human responses to the sea can be found in artforms including literature, art, poetry, film, theatre, and classical music. The earliest art representing boats is 40,000 years old. Since then, artists in different countries and cultures have depicted the sea. Symbolically, the sea has been perceived as a hostile environment populated by fantastic creatures: the Leviathan of the Bible, Isonade in Japanese mythology, and the kraken of late Norse mythology. In the works of the psychiatrist Carl Jung, the sea symbolises the personal and the collective unconscious in dream interpretation.

The sea and ships have been depicted in art ranging from simple drawings on the walls of huts in Lamu to seascapes by Joseph Turner and Dutch Golden Age painting. The Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai created colour prints of the moods of the sea, including The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The sea has appeared in literature since Homer's Odyssey (8th century BC). The sea is a recurring theme in the Haiku poems of the Japanese Edo period poet Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉) (1644–1694).



  • Cotterell, Arthur (ed.) (2000). World Mythology. Parragon. ISBN . 
  • Mack, John (2011). The Sea: A Cultural History. Reaktion Books. ISBN . 
  • Raban, Jonathan (1992). The Oxford Book of the Sea. Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Stow, Dorrik (2004). Encyclopedia of the Oceans. Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
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Wikipedia

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